The Chronicles of Riddick (or simply Riddick) is a series of Science Fiction/Low Heroic Science Fantasy franchise set in the 27th century. Its titular character, Richard B. Riddick, is notable for being a Last of His Kind Anti-Hero portrayed by Vin Diesel.
In 2000, Pitch Black was a surprise hit and quickly gained a cult following. The studio execs, spotting the series as a Cash-Cow Franchise, thus began the expansion of the Riddick universe through several releases. In 2004, the universe was expanded through video game prequel Escape from Butcher Bay and animated sequel Dark Fury, which both detail the events before and shortly after Pitch Black respectively. Both were met with praise, with Butcher Bay being both a very popular game and easily one of the biggest fan favorites in the series.
Whilst the game and animation were very well-received sequels, the same cannot be said for movie sequel The Chronicles of Riddick, which has strongly divided the fanbase; not only was it widely panned critically, it still maintains some fans despite flat out disownment from some. Additionally, 2009 saw a second game, named Assault on Dark Athena, released to act as a sequel to Butcher Bay and as a second prequel to Pitch Black. Like the movie sequel, Dark Athena had a great standard to meet, and is generally considered to have fallen short (though still good in its own right).
A third movie titled Riddick (or, depending on the country, Riddick: Rule the Dark) was released on September 6, 2013. Plotwise, the movie is essentially a combo of Pitch Black and Dark Fury: Riddick is stranded on a desert planet of ruined human colonies, hideous monstrosities and violent planetary cataclysms and weather patterns much like the first film, but is pursued by Mercenaries with advanced and bizarre technologies and genetic enhancement, much like in Dark Fury. The trailer can be viewed here.
David Twohy, director of the live-action movies, has said in an interview that he has plans for following up Riddick over another two movies: one big-budget, involving the Necromongers and the "Underverse" constellation; and then one low-budget, focused character story about Riddick's return to Furya.
Works in this franchise:
- Pitch Black (2000)
- The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
- Riddick (2013)
- Escape from Butcher Bay (2004)
- Assault on Dark Athena (2009)
The Animated Films:
- Pitch Black Slam City (2000)
- Dark Fury (2004)
This franchise provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Alcatraz: At least three of these are seen in the series, and more are mentioned in passing.
- The second movie, simply called The Chronicles of Riddick, has Crematoria, where the prisoners stay in their underground prison because the sunrise sets the atmosphere on fire. Riddick outruns it.
- Escape from Butcher Bay is set in the virtually inescapable Butcher Bay prison (see the videogame's page for more details).
- A flash animation on one of the official websites featured Ursa Luna Slam City, an orbital prison which Riddick also escaped from in record time.
- Actionized Sequel: Pitch Black to The Chronicles of Riddick. The former is a horror movie in which a group of space crash survivors have to escape a planet filled with alien monsters, the latter is a big-budged sequel in which the Conan-esque Riddick has to defeat an evil empire of death-worshipping warriors. While Riddick is not as action heavy as its immediate predecessor, it has considerably more action sequences both in number and intensity.
- Alliterative Name: Richard B. Riddick. In a perfect world, the middle name would be "Broderick"...
- All There in the Manual: The Riddick universe certainly applies to this. Not only are there tons of special features for the two main movies that are everything from trivia to mass info on the backstory of The Necromongers (who you would know almost nothing about just from watching), and other character's pursuit logs for the main character, there's also a 30 minute anime film that shows what happened right after the end of the first movie and introduces a major character, two video games (Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena) showing how Riddick got his eyeshine and escaped from prison, leading up to the first film, and on the website, there's a point and click adventure game, an animated comic book, and collection of background info on all the characters in the first film and who they are. There's also a novelization of the first film revealing more of Riddick's past and the character's internal thoughts, a novelization of the 2nd film that has an exclusive epilogue, an exclusive mock-documentary only available on the region 2 DVD of the first film, and it just goes on and on.
- Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain (Type I): Riddick is one of the few characters you could make an strong argument for both. He is very much a criminal but his general attitude is "I don't care if you're good or you're bad, just don't get in my way." In general though, being a protagonist makes him more often an Anti-Hero. In Pitch Black he is treated as essentially the villain.
- Appropriated Title: The first release in canon was called Pitch Black; the Riddick-based titles didn't start until the second film. This goes along with the complete change in tone and focus the series underwent after the first installment.
- Arc Words: "You're not afraid of the Dark, are you?"
- Black-and-Gray Morality: Riddick is a mass murderer with a knife fetish, but his opponents are nihilistic necrophiliacs that want to convert and then murder the entire universe, child-killing junkie cowards with badges, sadistic mercenaries who massacre entire panets to harvest the people as cyborgs and slaves, and bounty hunters who turn people into living statues for their own artistic amusement. Riddick doesn't want to save the universe, he just wants to wander it — but one doesn't survive as long as he has in this Crapsack Universe without making enemies... and a lot of those enemies are rich and powerful enough to put a bounty on his head.
- Catchphrase: See Above.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: This is very evident, to the point that not only are criminals routinely shipped to penal planets in other star systems, it's possible to make a living as a bounty hunter even with having to schlep the prisoner to the prison planet yourself. It helps that their 'verse has developed a form of easy intravenous stasis technology - punch in your ship's course, stick the needle in your arm and you make the trip without consuming resources.
- Crapsack World: The ENTIRE FUTURE UNIVERSE throughout the Riddick series.
- Death Faked for You: This happened in Pitch Black, with Riddick asking that the others say he died on the planet/moon/hell-forsaken rock. As we see at the beginning of The Chronicles of Riddick, that didn't discourage the mercenaries from hunting him down anyway. Of course, they were clued in by one of the people he rescued. In the novelization, it's made clear people were still looking for him anyway. They just couldn't find him without help.
- Death World: Nearly every world seen, save Helion Prime, is a planetary-scale deathtrap. Perhaps justified in that most of the planets seen were either uninhabited, or specifically chosen as sites for maximum security prisons.
- Earth Drift: Pitch Black is the only movie that mentions Earth, with the rest of the franchise has A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away... feel.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Imam is a title, not a name. It would be like addressing a priest only as "father," and never using his name.
- Expansion Pack World
- Feel No Pain: The Necromongers themselves are incredibly resistant to pain and damage, as their indoctrination renders them unaffected by damage to varying degrees. Dame Vaako herself managed to apply makeup to her eyes using a burning pencil, which by all means would hurt like a bitch, but did absolutely nothing for her. One of the Necromongers' best fighters, Irgun; had a knife embedded in his back from a previous kill, which did nothing to impede his movements or his ability to fight.
- Food Pills: There are several references throughout the series in regards to stuff like "protein waffles" being served at various slams throughout the galaxy, among other things. While not strictly pills, in this sense, it implies that raw nutrients have been converted into something more digestable, which is effectively the same thing.
- Friend to All Children: Riddick seems to have a soft spot for children. In the DVD extras, this is mentioned as the only reason Johns ever caught him in the first place. He seemingly was willing to leave Jack to die in Pitch Black, though, so this only goes so far. Vin Diesel stated in the commentary that Riddick didn't think there was any way all of them could get off the planet alive, so his decision to leave them behind was based on logic, not selfishness.
- Genre Shift: Pitch Black was Horror-Action/Character drama in a completely Science Fiction world. The Chronicles Of Riddick is Low/Heroic Fantasy with a smattering of science fiction among the story.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The series features projectile weapons that, while more beefy looking, still use the good old gunpowder and slug ammo. The Necromongers from the second film, however, have concussion guns as standard infantry armament, although they still prefer to fight up-close-and-personal with blades and axes. It is also not shown how these guns match up against firearms.
- The Milky Way Is the Only Way: The films don't mention galaxies but the novelizations contradict each other. The novelization to Pitch Black by Frank Lauria implies that humans have colonized several galaxies, saying that Riddick worked in the Sigma Galaxy and that Johns chased him across 3 galaxies, but the novelization to The Chronicles of Riddick by Alan Dean Foster implies that everything takes place within one galaxy.
- Hero with an F in Good: Riddick is a full-grown Satisfied Street Rat — a vicious and remorseless human predator who has killed hundreds of people at torture range. What makes him a "hero" is that though he is a genuinely Axe-Crazy Psycho Knife Nut who lives to tear people to shreds simply for the joy of it, he has no interest in killing those who cannot defend themselves, finds children to be amusing distractions(especially since those feelings are usually returned), and treats those that do kill the defenseless as animals. He thus finds himself regularly rescuing loads and loads of people by accident despite never intending to.
- Human Aliens: The Furyans themselves are the descendants of Human colonists who settled on Furya centuries ago and have undergone mutations in order to adapt to the hostility of Furya, which is said to be a high-gravity Death World. Over the course of countless generations, the Furyans have evolved into a Proud Warrior Race, and because of their adaptations, are stronger, faster, and tougher then baseline Humans, not to mention being much more cunning and vicious. It also seems that the Elementals themselves are another example of Human Aliens.
- Innate Night Vision: The main character, Richard B. Riddick, is able to see in the dark at the cost of oversensitivity in daylight conditions, necessitating his near-permanent use of welding goggles. In Pitch Black this allowed him to assist a stranded starship crew in escaping from a predator-filled world during an extended solar eclipse. In that movie he claims that he paid a surgeon in prison for the enhancement, but this is later retconned as a supernatural ability.
- Informed Ability: Riddick being so evil while all the killing he do is in self-defense. The most evil he gets is in the first film when he abandons the other three survivors to die and escape off the planet by himself, before he is convinced to go back, but even that is subject to Alternate Character Interpretation. Vin Diesel himself thinks Riddick did that because of the low odds, not because he likes to kill innocents.
- Considering most of the bad rap comes through the filter of other, worse people, Riddick is more likely an Anti-Hero with Bad Publicity.
- Last of His Kind: Riddick is one of (if you can call Necromongers alive) the only Furyans to survive the planet's destruction.
- Lightning Bruiser:
- Despite his size and weight, Riddick is incredibly quick on his feet and is capable of performing amazing feats of physical athleticism, such as leaping great distances, running without stop for long periods of time and being strong enough to go toe to toe with a Bioraptor and mutilating it.
- The Necromongers are no less capable of fighters because of the armour they wear. Upper-Tier Necromongers are pretty damn quick on their feet, like Vaako and his personal retinue of Necromongers, to the Lord Marshall; who admittedly, has genuine super-speed due to being Holy Half-Dead
- Loose Canon: The Motion Comic prequel to Pitch Black, Slam City, includes a scene of Riddick receiving the eyeshine surgery exactly as described in Pitch Black. However, the entire idea of Riddick getting the ability from surgery was later retconned in both Escape From Butcher Bay and The Chronicles of Riddick, where Riddick's eyeshine ablilty was revealed to be from his Furyan heritage. It is unclear if the rest of the Slam City comic — that is everything except for the eyeshine scene — is canon or not.
- Made of Iron: Because of the world from which they hail from, Furyans are incredibly tough and hardy. Aside from weathering blows and injuries that would leave most people stunned or unconscious, Riddick has been shown to be tough enough to dislocate and relocate his shoulders in an effort to escape his bonds, withstand long drops and even reset his arm after it was broken by Johns in a fight.
- Morality Pet: Mass murderer Riddick managed to find a few morality pets in Pitch Black, Fry, Jack, and Imam. Of course, Fry died at the end of Pitch Black, and Jack (Kyra) and Imam died at the end of The Chronicles of Riddick, leaving Riddick with no more morality pets, and a whole empire of necromongers at his command! Be afraid. Be very afraid.
- '90s Anti-Hero: Riddick is a morally ambiguous mass murderer who will kill anyone who gets in his path and is only good in comparison to the enemies he faces.
- Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie:
- Riddick himself is a Human Alien, Proud Warrior Race Guy, Lightning Bruiser, who is a Master of the Sherlock Scan, Improvised Weapon, is Madeof Iron, was a Private Military Contractor and is somewhat of an Ace Pilot, with Hidden Depths and is a Friend to All Children. The Furyans themselves can be presumed to be Human Alien Proud Warrior Race Lightning Bruiser and Madeof Iron.
- The Necromongers are space-faring Master Race of Scary Dogmatic Aliens of the Human Aliens variation, who follow a Religionof Evil (from their perspective, their religion is right, and they're more then willing to launch star system-spanning genocidal crusades/recruitment drives to gather more converts), whose indoctrination process allows for them to Feel No Pain and transforms them into Madeof Iron.
- They make use of Energy Weapons that utilize gravity to kill their enemies, and their vehicles and troop delivery systems also make use of gravity as well. Evil Is Sexy is rather common among them, their leaders are Royals Who Actually Do Something, and the main piece of their fleet, is a Cool Starship known as the Basilica, which happens to be the unearthed, converted and preserved remains of their religion's original place of worship/residence, known as The Necropolis.
- Also, to further drive the point home, Our Zombies Are Different and Human Resources is utilized very well here: The Lensors, who are Human Bloodhounds, are wounded soldiers and scouts, who have sensor equipment implanted into the missing parts of their faces, who can be used as living tracking equipment by their fellow Necromongers.
- Their main form of communications, surveillance are the Holy Order of the Quasi-Dead, who are ascetics who place themselves into near-death-like states in order to augment and amplify their psychic powers and communicate across vast distances. It's one of the reasons why the Helion Prime Defense Force and other planetary security and defense forces failed to set up a proper defense against them: They couldn't detect their comm frequencies at all. Combined with approaching planets from an unconventional angle of approach and utilizing Colony Drop like its going out of style, they're an unstoppable force to deal with.
- Their leader, the Lord Marshall; who is The Holy Half-Dead, is a man who has traveled to the Threshold of the Underverse, the entrance to a scary Alternate Universe, where Death is celebrated and Life is a mistake; and has come back, forever changed; with superpowers such as the power to remove souls from the bodies of others and destroy them, heightened senses, superstrength and superspeed.
- Noble Demon: From this series we have Noble Demon Riddick. He's a villain in almost every way; a savage murderer and borderline sociopath with a really sick sense of humour, but Even Evil Has Standards (he dislikes rapists and senseless killing, for instance), he is a lot closer to animals than people, and it seems he Wouldn't Hurt a Child (he seems to like children, and in return he often fascinates them).
- Not Hyperbole: A fairly significant part of Riddick's character. If Riddick makes a threat or tells you to do something, he means it. (no matter impossible or outlandish it may sound))
Riddick: I told that was gonna happen...
- Pitch Black has the above-mentioned "I want you to remember this moment." exchange.
- Dark Fury has Riddick telling Junner "Next time we meet, I'm gonna stick this [knife] right in your eye..." At the end of their fight, this is exactly how Riddick kills him.
Riddick: "I'll kill you with my teacup."
- And The Chronicles Of Riddick features this fan-favorite example:
- In Riddick, Riddick promises Santana that for killing his dog, he'll kill him within five seconds after his restraints come off. True to his word, Riddick decapitates him with a machete. However, he has to kick it at him, as his hands were bound. Then Santana's head lands in the box that he brought for Riddicks head...all within five seconds.
- Numbered Homeworld: There's Helion Prime and then up to Helion Five. The planet in Pitch Black is called M6-117.
- Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: It all started with the 2000 film Pitch Black. This was followed by a sequel called The Chronicles of Riddick in 2004 and an accompanying video game and animated special subtitled Escape from Butcher Bay and Dark Fury, respectively. A second video game subtitled Assault on Dark Athena was released in 2009. All other entries aside from the second film at least style themselves as "The Chronicles of Riddick: Title of Entry", even Pitch Black retroactively. This is set to be followed by a third theatrical film in 2013 simply called Riddick. Word is still out on how this will play out, since it has also been called The Chronicles of Riddick: Dead Man Stalking by the creators.
- Offstage Villainy: An interesting example is Richard B. Riddick, the Noble Demon protagonist of the series who, despite being the protaginist, is considered by all to be evil incarnate. While in Pitch Black he certainly starts off as a sinister character, in all of his screen time across the number of games and movies he appears in, he never really does anything explicitly evil. Most of it can easily be recognised as a man with a strong survival instinct who just wants people to leave him the fuck alone.
- Only in It for the Money: The usual motivation of the mercenaries hunting for Riddick, who are all after the substantial reward offered for his capture. Examples include Johns, and Toombs and his mercenary crews.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted, Islam and Christianity are both alive and well.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: It is hinted that the Furyans have elements of this.
- Retcon: Riddick's status as a Furyan. In the first film he was just a particularly tough, but still very human escaped convict who got a surgical procedure from a doctor in prison to allow him to see in the dark. In the sequels, he's rewritten to be a Proud Warrior Race Guy from the extinct Furyans, and the "shinejob" on his eyes was supernaturally bestowed on him by the vision of a dead Furyan woman. All these are things which Riddick dismisses in the moment as hallucinations, attributing his abilities to other more mundane sources (hence why he "discovers" the truth of his heritage in Chronicles despite benefiting from it earlier.)
- Same Plot Sequel: Riddick creators David Twohy and Vin Diesel expressed in interviews that they specifically wanted to avoid this when they made The Chronicles of Riddick by not simply doing a remake of Pitch Black only with bigger and meaner monsters. However, the sequel was then criticized for veering too far away from its premise by placing Riddick, a knife-happy Villain Protagonist in a Sci-Fi Horror—into a Star Wars-esque Science Fantasy space epic as the last hope of saving the universe from the thrall of an evil empire. The next movie, simply titled Riddick, then played this straight. Once again Riddick is stranded on an uninhabited planet before nightfall arrives and the whole planet is swarmed with hostile aliens, requiring the humans to retrieve energy batteries to power a ship and escape.
- Science Fantasy: The series shifted into this with the second film. Pitch Black was fairly hard sci-fi, but Riddick 2 introduces superhuman warriors on a holy crusade led by an Evil Overlord, elemental alien seers, and a prophecy saying that Riddick (now the last living member of an extinct Proud Warrior Race destroyed by the Overlord) will be the one to kill the Necromonger leader. It still comes off as a strange mix with Low Fantasy, as the harder elements are still present in every scene that doesn't involve the Necros.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Riddick seems to just appear out of shadows and fade away into them when necessary. It helps that he can see in the dark.
- Super Strength: The benefits of being a Human Alien from a high-gravity death world. Combined with the savagery and brutality that He displays in combat, Riddick tends to shred through his opponents like they were made out of tinfoil. The Necromongers themselves display prodigious levels of physical strength, especially when you start getting into the higher ranks, like Vaako and The Lord Marshall. Again, it's been pointed out that the Necromongers hail from a heavy gravity world, and they make use of gravity-based energy weapons along with gravity engines and drives for their ships and vehicles.
- Super Speed: A nice side-effect of being Holy Half-Dead. The Lord Marshall himself is able to cover great distances in a short amount of time, even while wearing a full suit of plate armour and maille. Having Super Strength is rather helpful in those respects as well. In order for Riddick to defeat the Lord Marshall, He had to be quicker thinking then his adversary.
- Super Weight
- Type -1: Lynn Silverman
- Type 0: Johns, Fry, Jacknote , Imam, Toombs, Kyranote , Dame Vaako, Chillingsworth, Hoxie, Jagger Valance, Dacher, Ellen Silverman
- Type 1: Vaako, Revas, Spinner, Abbott, Junner, Necromonger soldiers
- Type 2: Riddick, the Purifier, Bioraptors, the Quasi-Dead, Lensers, Hellhounds, Pitt Dwellers, Ghost Drones
- Type 3: The Lord Marshall, Aeron, people in Mech units, Butcher Bay's robotic guards, Alpha Drones
- Type 5: The Necromonger fleet
- Transhuman Aliens: None of the different races seen in the films are "aliens", though there are human cultures that significantly diverged from the baseline on different planets due to their circumstances and philosophies:
- The Furyans settled on a hell world and focused on combat, refining them into peak warriors.
- The Elementals focused on intellectual pursuits, i.e. Platonic philosophy, until they attained near-magical powers. They can't "see" the future but they can calculate quite accurate predictions. Air Elementals are semi-translucent and can apparently "glide" fairly well.
- The Necromongers are a militant crusade of death-worshiping zealots. Part of their indoctrination process involves using a pair of torture device needles on their necks which destroys their physical ability to feel pain. Some of them just walk around with daggers stabbed into them in previous fights still sticking out of their bodies, as a display of prowess. Their focus on extreme asceticism (to the point of near-death) also gives some of their castes psychic powers.
- Used Future: Everything is in dire need of a new paint job in the future.